Love your planet

Michael Boylan's picture

The hot topic of the 1984 McKay Elementary School Science Fair, at least in the mind of a charming, fourth grade boy with the initials M.B., was acid rain. He had read about this in an issue of National Geographic, which came to his home faithfully thanks to a gift from his Grampy.

Acid rain is formed when pollution leaves smokestacks, goes into the sky and comes back down as precipitation that can harm plants, animals and buildings.

Though smokestacks still spew pollution, albeit reduced thanks to some laws reducing harmful emissions, it hasn’t been a hot topic in years. The young scientist was concerned about acid rain and pollution because he saw giant smokestacks one town over from his bedroom window. There were other smokestacks, a few blocks over, that he couldn’t see, but some mornings there we would be some soot on his windowsill.

There was nothing anyone could do to stop the air pollution. Years later, when the boy became a young man and moved to Atlanta, Ga. he found out about really poor air quality. Still, it seemed there was nothing that anybody could do.

Except make minor changes individually and hope that others would do the same. This meant taking public transportation to sporting events and concerts in the city instead of driving and carpooling as much as possible, which admittedly wasn’t much.

People will debate everything until the cows come home, including whether or not the cows will come home at all, but there has to come a time where you focus on what the truth is and act accordingly.

The truth is that this is the only planet we have and the things we do have an effect on the quality of our lives, whether we’re talking about our health or we’re just talking about aesthetics.

You might believe that global warming, or climate change, is a sci-fi idea cooked up by a former vice-president and a bunch of crunchy hippies in Birkenstocks, but we know that pollution is bad. Reducing dangerous emissions from smokestacks and cars will help make the air cleaner and, according to those who believe in global warming, it will help not flood the planet with water from melting glaciers. Scoff at images of drowning polar bears if you must, but you can’t deny Atlanta’s air quality stinks, especially in the summer, so shouldn’t you do what you can?

The drought that has plagued this area for over a year now has certainly taught my family about conserving water and luckily we never had to go without. Still, when we thought about possibly being hit even harder by water restrictions due to the lack of rain or not having water at all, we made as many changes as we could.

We learn from a very young age that littering is wrong and yet, we could drive down any street in this county and see trash scattered about. Individuals and organizations do a fantastic thing by adopting stretches of roads and many in our community support them and their efforts, but we only have a county-wide clean-up day every once in a while. Sometimes that is how we mark Earth Day.

Earth Day gets a lot of chuckles and snorts around here. People derisively call those who use it as a day of action, treeehuggers, but they shouldn’t be mocked for treating their home with respect. Being green is not just for liberals. The word conservation is two letters away from the word conservative. Is clean air and clean water something that only a Democrat wants? Shouldn’t our natural resources and our home (Earth) be protected?

As someone who is monumentally busy, not only with work but also two children under the age of three at home, I know from experience that thinking globally and acting locally is often low on the list of priorities, but I encourage everyone to find ways that they can act super-locally. By changing a few things at home, you can do your part to making things better for your home, this area and Earth itself.

There’s a lot of great information available on the web about easy things you can do to make a difference. Visit or just type in “easy ways to go green” into a search engine. You’ll be surprised at how easy it will be to make some small changes and see some differences.

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